Book Review: Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins

A hilarious tale of teenage superheroes that gripped me from page one.

4.5/5 stars

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Goodreads Description

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, Cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

My Review

Let’s start off with this: Rebel Belle is HILARIOUS. Honestly, this book is like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Cordelia as the MC (and if Cordelia was a massive overachiever). There are so many awkward and cringe-humor moments. Seriously, if you need a book to put a smile on your face, this is the perfect one for you.

Harper is a great protagonist. She’s a straight-A student, the class president, a member of about sixty extracurricular organizations, and a Southern belle on top of it. She’s bossy, slightly self-absorbed, and a perfectionist. She doesn’t let anyone (even magical people) take over her life without permission. She’s the girl that does everything and never admits that she’s overwhelmed. Which was fine when her life was just school-related, but the addition of magic and superpowers definitely pushed her over the edge.

I loved Harper, but there were times when I wanted to grab her and shake her. Though she has her annoying moments (like, give it a rest, girl), I loved her as a protagonist, because I knew exactly who she was and what she stood for. Though she’s not the most original character on the surface, her voice is so clear that it makes her unique.

Oooh! One other thing that I absolutely LOVED about Harper. When crazy, obviously magical things happened to her, she didn’t spend pages and pages denying it or thinking she was insane. She started researching it. She accepted that something crazy had happened and worked forward from there. There aren’t words for how refreshing it is to read about a character that is able to do that.

David is an adorably geeky love interest. I liked that both he and Harper kind of freaked when magical craziness took over their lives, but that they were also willing to go with whatever kept both of them alive. David’s chemistry with Harper gives me life. Their sass with each other was AWESOME, and the romance that developed was perfect.

But Rebel Belle isn’t just the story of Harper and David falling in love while doing magical things—it also has strong contemporary subplots. Rachel Hawkins captures the overwhelming nature of high school really well, especially the pressure of extracirriculars. And as being a magical superhero takes over Harper’s life, she starts to realize that her life wasn’t perfect before. She has to see her friends and her boy friend in a new light, and though it wasn’t exactly cheery to read about, this plot line gave the book depth. It could have just been a funny story about enemies falling in love, but Rachel Hawkins made it a multifaceted story about being a high school student—and I loved it.

The plot of Rebel Belle is paced really well, always building toward the climax. The subplots wove together to create a strong story. It is a fun and exciting book to read, plain and simple.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a good laugh, likes romances between mortal enemies, or who wants a dose of high school drama (but realistic drama, not stupid drama). Also, to fans of Buffy. Basically everyone. 😉

The Cinderella Book Tag

I haven’t done a tag in a while, so when Kirstie @ Upside-Down Books tagged me in the Cinderella Tag, I thought, I think it’s time for another book tag! 

This tag was created by Tiffany @ About to Read. Now, full disclosure, I’m really not a Disney buff. Cinderella is one of the only Disney movies that I’m sure I’ve seen all the way through (please don’t throw things at me). Still, I like this tag 🙂 I get to talk about books—what else matters?!

Evil Stepsisters: a book with characters you just hate

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Like, everyone. Especially that DA. Seriously, reading this book made me so angry…but in a good, very well written way.

Prince Charming: a book with a gentleman

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Simon Middleton in Rebel Angels by Libba Bray. Yes, he’s part of a love triangle. Yes, he kind of gets in the way of twoo wuv. But I honestly loved Simon. He’s definitely a gentleman, and I am so glad that he was a part of the Gemma Doyle series.

Cinderella: a character that is graceful, kind, and defiant

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Maddie from Code Name Verity. She’s not as spunky as Verity, but she definitely stands up for herself and the people she loves. She’s kind and a graceful pilot, too.

Fairy Godmother: a character that always has someone looking out for them

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Mei Yee in The Walled City. She doesn’t know it, but her sister, Jin, is always looking for her, doing her best to try to rescue her from her awful life.

Helpful Creatures: something that makes you happy when you’re sad

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Rereading any part of The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #3). This book is my actual (no competition, seriously) favorite book, and just thinking about some of the amazing scenes—from fight scenes to declarations of love—in this book makes my heart flutter (wow that ended up being lame).

Ashes: a book you didn’t care for

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Ash and Bramble. Technically, this is my sister talking (from next to me as I write this post). She got a few chapters into this book and had to put it down—it just didn’t grab her at all. I trust her judgement 😉

Pumpkin: a character with a transformation

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Macey McHenry from The Gallagher Girls series. She starts off as a total bitch, but she turns into one of my favorite characters. The third book in this series, which is really focused on her, is one of my favorites, simply because we get to see how much she’s grown (and how much she’s stayed the same).

Impossible: a book with an ending you didn’t see coming

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Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Also the other two books in the trilogy. Every single Mistborn book left me gaping at the last page, in complete denial as to what had just happened. If you like being shocked, definitely pick up these books.

Just Breathe: something that inspires you to be courageous

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Verity from Code Name Verity. I know I’ve already talked about this book in this post, but it’s too perfect. Verity’s story brings me to tears, and just thinking about everything that she went through makes me determined to be courageous in my life.

Happily Ever After: a book with a perfect ending

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Well, it’s a series, but I felt like the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter ended on a perfect note: hopeful and looking to the future. I cried at the ending, but they were happy tears, and though I never wanted that series to end, at least it ended perfectly. Again, I’ve already talked about these books, but they deserve it.

Book Review: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

A magical remake of the classic Romeo and Juliet setup that could have impressed me more.

3/5 stars

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Goodreads Description

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

My Review

There were a lot of things that I loved about this book. The premise was fascinating: a pair of travelling circus families that hated each other, going so far as to be superstitiously terrified of even touching a member of the other clan. Though the conflict between the two families seemed inflated to a neutral party (the reader), the story was framed in such a way that it made sense why each family hated the other so much.

A complex and layered story grew out of this conflict, touching on issues dealing with environmental protection, stigmas, and body image. I especially loved the (somewhat unexpected) focus on the chemical plant in the town the story was set in. The plot line that grew out of the chemical plant was unique and realistic, with a dash of honest terror. Without the social commentary woven through the story, TWOF would have been a fairly straightforward forbidden romance, and I’m glad that it wasn’t.

Both protagonists had clear personalities. I loved seeing them interact with the rest of their families, especially with their simultaneous love and hatred of the shows. Unfortunately, I never really shipped Lace and Cluck. They were an okay couple, but for a plot that relied so much on romance, I never got that spark of “ohmygod I NEED the ship to sail” that I expected.

The rest of the characters had the same lifelike realism as Cluck and Lace, adding their own layers to the story. I liked how characters that seemed minor at the beginning ended up being really important at the end. I also appreciated the fact that lots of different conflicts existed between various characters, going beyond the obvious family vs family hatred.

The writing of TWOF is gorgeous, with the descriptions being the most impressive part. I feel like I’ve seen both of the family’s shows, like I know exactly what their costumes look like. Honestly, the shows may be my favorite part of the book.

I loved the way that the author wove the characters’ culture into the story through languages. Each chapter starts with a quote, either in French (signifying Chuck’s POV) or in Spanish (for Lace’s POV), and characters periodically speak in their native tongue. This was a simple but powerful way to weave the characters’ cultures into the story.

The story clearly conveys lots of thought-provoking themes, and it does so with a gentle hand that most authors can’t pull off without seeming preachy. The mirror-like quality that the author wove in (where extremely similar situations play out in both families without them knowing) was a nice touch that added power to the “why the frick do you hate each other” theme, though at times it seemed a bit too perfect.

The only problem I had with this book was the plot itself. The pacing was moderate and constant, leaving me wondering what the main plot was and what the subplots were. I never felt like the story built to a clear climax, and the ending felt abrupt, undoing some of the story’s original magic. I liked all of the different parts of the story, but I’m not sure that they all came together the way that the author intended. When the story ended, I was left wishing that more had happened, and wondering what exactly the story was supposed to be. I didn’t hate this book at all, but I wanted more from it.

I would recommend this book to people who love descriptive books and who like contemporary stories that have a magical quality, even if magic isn’t involved. This book is not for people seeking a fast-paced or intense romance, but it is a sweet and thoughtful story with strong social commentary.

January Wrap Up!

January is finally over. I saw finally, because this month lasted about a million years. I can’t believe first semester has only been going on for three weeks!!!

In My Life

I started off this month with a few days with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle in Death Valley—which despite the ominous name is one of my favorite places. I’m planning on sharing some gorgeous nature photos with you guys next month (I’m just getting around to looking through the photos and editing them.)

Once school started, everything got crazy. Second semester got off to a roaring start. I’ve already had tests in basically every subject, and I’m back to hours of homework every night. Still, I’m feeling optimistic for finishing off junior year strong. (We’ll talk in a few months, that might change 😉 )

In Blogging

This month was okay for my blog. I had 13 posts. At the beginning of the year, I talked about my resolutions for reading and blogging in 2016. I revived my weekly feature Weekend Words for a week, and then it kind of fell apart again…

I also took part in Guest of the Month Club again. This time, Sophie @ Sophie the Bookworm was my partner, which was great! You can read her post here, and my guest post on her blog here.

In Reading and Reviewing

Despite school being crazy, I was able to get in a lot of reading this month. I loved most of the books I read, and I’m really excited to have another year filled with great books.

Unlike most months, I actually wrote reviews for every book I read this month this month. (Sorry for how awkwardly that is phrased.) Some of them didn’t get posted, but at least I’m starting to break my cycle of writing reviews like two weeks after I read the book…

Books I read this month 

(If I’ve written a review, it is linked to)

I also started reading The Catcher in the Rye with my English class. I AM SO TORN about this book. I don’t know if I hate Holden or if I love him. We’re a bit more than halfway through, so we’ll see what I think by the end. 🙂

In Writing

This month was actually pretty great for writing! I’m really proud of myself for starting off 2016 and not immediately abandoning my goal to share more stories and poems on this blog. I took part in two Chuck Wendig writing challenges, which led me to write about some struggles I have when writing short stories. I added about 5,000 words to my WIP, which isn’t exactly great, but it’s better than none. 😉


Short Stories

So that was my January! How was yours? Did you read any great books? What are you plans for February?